I will be spending 2 weeks in Hawaii in November (Waikiki) and I would love to hear about any restaurants that are must stops so I don't miss anything good. I would especially appreciate any suggestions on fun places to go for a group-is it possible to find a good beer in Hawaii???
Bar 35 in Downtown has a good beer selection, as does Ryan's Grill in Ward Center. Definitely stop at Giovanni's in Kahuku for some shrimp, and others have recommended, Leonards is a must stop for malasadas. They are one of the things I miss most about Hawaii!
As for other food -- I'd recommend Phuket in the McCully Shopping Center (just outside of Waikiki) for Thai - - much more authentic and better than Keo's and Mekong's.
A fun place to go with a group would be Tiki's in Waikiki. It is an outdoor restaurant/bar. Their kahlua pig mashed potatoes are a must have! They typically have Hawaiian music on most nights as well.
Waikiki is a fabulous place - excellent food, great bars. Try Sansei for Japanese/Sushi. They do a happy hour on Friday nights.
For breakfast - Eggs and Things is the best in Waikiki. Be prepared to wait.
For a little "local" flavor, go to Side Street Inn (near Ala Moana Center) - it is where the chefs go when they are hungry. Their pork chop is amazing!
Camelia is good for Korean food close to Waikiki.
Hula Grill is great for seafood - the atmosphere is good too. Ask for a outdoor table. You'll be overlooking the ocean.
Duke's is always a good time for a drink and dinner with friends. Sunday afternoons are the time to hit the bar... Good ceasar salad - excellent hula pie.
Waiola Shave Ice on Waiola St.
For great Chinese food/dim sum try Fook Lam in Chinese Cultural Center.
Teddy's burgers and Kua Aina are both great for burgers.
For an excellent snack - Kahala Nuts cinnamon glazed macadamia nuts. They are addictive! You can get them on the ground floor of the Duty Free Shops in Waikiki. They roast them there (and almonds and pecans too) - - you can smell them cooking a mile away and are ususally still warm!
What kind of restaurants are you looking for - what type of atmosphere?
Okonomi Cuisine Kai - great place. Kind of hidden around the corner of Walmart in Honolulu. Keeaumoku St?
Beer? Longboard Ale tasted okay, but not sure I tried anything else that was Hawaiian.
If it's in your budget, I would recommend going to the Kahala Mandarin for a night. Well worth it.
Go to Leonards for some malasadas. Great portuguese donuts.
Also, I agree with Kau Kau and the White Shrimp Truck. (East side of the island), but you should also look for Keneke's too. A great truck stop with good Chicken Adobo and all your regular plate lunch stuff.
I forgot to mention that my favorite breakfast around is served at Wailana Coffee House across Ala Moana Blvd from the Hilton Hawaiian Village. This place has bangers and the single best Eggs Benedict Ive ever gotten at a restaurant. Eat here the morning after that luau and all those sickeningly sweet Mai Tais, your belly will thank you.
The Kim Chee restaurants are a must have craving, every time I go home. You can mix and match kal bi, bulgoki, chicken, man doo for $6-7. Comes with large variety of kim chee, plus soup if you eat in, and of course, macaroni salad (reequired in any local plate lunch). I like the one in Kaneohe the best if you rent a car, but there are a couple in town, both on Waialae Ave, I think. Leonard's malasadas are my favorite pastry, but I recently discovered Coco Puffs from Liliha Bakery, which are cream puffs filled w/ chocolate cream and frosted with buttercream. They also sell them prepackaged and frozen, which I was assured could make it back to the Mainland unscathed.
My favorite ramen close to Waikiki is Ezogiku. There is one at both ends of Kalakaua Ave. Big servings, lots of kamaboko and char siu, and comes with gyoza. My current favorite "nice" restaurant is A Pacific Cafe, which started in Kapaa, Kauai serving impeccably fresh fish and homegrown veggies, and has spread to all the major islands. It's in Ward Warehouse on Ala Moana Ave.
Kudos Kau Kau Hound - you've pointed my fellow haole towards a couple of my favs in Honolulu. Stillwingy-san, if you're looking for a group event, please check out one of the luaus sponsored by the hotels or resorts. The best source of info for these are the pamphlets in your (or anybody's) hotel. The best one I've ever been to is at a resort about 30 - 45 min west of Pearl Harbor (Pearl Kai). I'm sorry that their name escapes me right now, but their brochures are available in the lobby (and rooms) of just about every hotel in Waikiki. The mai-tais are dangerous, the roast pork is succulent in ways that I can't believe, the veggies are tender, the poi is ...well, poi. But the after-dinner show is so great, and so varied, and so cool, that you will be glad you made the drive. The brochure says (if I remember correctly)...Largest Luau on Ohau. And, it is. I went there with about 14 people, and we had just the best time (The luau seats about 200 people). Reservations must be made at least 3-4 days in advance (Some resorts allow 24 hour notification for the luau). I know that the whole concept sounds cheesy - which it is - but it is a lot of fun.
For a nice pre-dinner sunset drink, check out the beach-side bars at the Hilton Hawaiian Village (a bit west of Waikiki, but a very easy beach walk.)
For a spendy and trendy Pacific Rim dinner, try Alan Wongs on King St.
Keos Thai is the most popular Thai restaurant, average prices and pleasant decor. Keo grows his own produce and orchids for the restaurant on his farm. Evil Jungle Prince is his signature dish and its basically a hyped up red chicken curry.
Irifune is a laid back Japanese BYOB restaurant in Kaimuki. Small and crowded at times, but inexpensive. Stop by Fujiokas Wine first for some help selecting a wine.
By all means, try the lunch trucks and drive-ins that are so common. Pork/chicken katsu is my favorite plate lunch item, sometimes rivaled by Teri Beef or Mahi Mahi. All items tend to come with two scoops rice and one scoop macaroni salad. Rainbow Drive-Inn in Kaimuki is convenient to Waikiki beach.
The famous White Shrimp Truck on the north shore serves up succulent garlicky shrimp fresh from the farm atop a pile of rice. The only other fare offered here are hot dogs and soft drinks, so come hungry for shrimp.
Chinatown offers a wealth of wonderful Chinese, including dim sum. This part of town can be quite seedy, so go for lunch--not dinner.
You will see Zippys all over the place. They have great chili and serve fresh fish dinners at unbelievable prices (even opakapaka if its fresh and available).
You must try: Portugese malasadas, manapua (similar to char shiu bau) and bring home some Lion coffee.
As far as beer goes, I know they have a Gordon Biersch at the Aloha Tower, and this would be a great place to go for pupus and to watch a sunset. Do try Alii Ale, its good and its brewed on Oahu (you wont find this at Gordys, though).
For specific address info use the link below, please.
re: Kau Kau Hound
Awesome message, kau kau hound!
Just your salutation of "Aloha stillwingy" alone earns you Message of the Week status, so the great tips are gravy.
Hope you'll stick around, we need more Hawaiian food discussion. I've never been there, but from what I've heard, it's a chowhound paradise.
Any idea if there's anything even vaguely Hawaiian on the East Coast?
re: Jim Leff
>>Hope you'll stick around, we need more Hawaiian food discussion. <<
That's 'cause this is the "International" board; shouldn't we be in "Elsewhere In America"? ;}
That's one of the joys of Hawai'i - I heard it best summed up as "Hawai'i is in the United States, but it's not American."